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In April 2014 I  joined a group climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Dreams Take Flight, a charity which takes children with physical, mental and social challenges on a one day fun filled trip from Ottawa to Florida for a day at the Magic Kingdom. My preparations, why I did it, who I did it for, and… Read More »


My project to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro came about through a happy association with Dreams Take Flight, a charity in Ottawa and Dream Mountains Foundation, an Ottawa organization that connects climbers with 7 charities corresponding to the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on the seven continents. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro had been something of a bucket list… Read More »

Training and Preparation

Training Training. It seemed endless at times. Fortunately I’d started a modest running program in late summer. With my commitment to the project at the end of October, 2013 came stair training. We had an arrangement with a downtown hotel to use their fitness centre facilities and 32 story stairwell, so twice a week I’d… Read More »


After all the preparation, we departed April 28, 2014.  We said our goodbyes and left from the Ottawa Train station by KLM highway coach to Montréal, where we caught the KLM flight to Amsterdam (on an MD-11, one of the last in service though in remarkably good condition) and a connection to Kilimanjaro International Airport on a KLM Airbus A330.… Read More »

Day 1 – Machame

Day 1 – Machame Gate (5,380ft) to Machame Camp (9,350ft) Day 1 of the climb started with a weigh in to ensure we were within weight limits for our porter bag and daypacks, then a bus ride to the Machame Gate (pronounced mah-cha-may.)  There are a number of routes to use climbing Kilimanjaro, and we had chosen (or rather had chosen for us) Machame, also known as the Whiskey Route. A… Read More »

Day 2 – Machame to Shira

Day 2 – Machame Camp to Shira Camp (9,350 to 12,500 ft.) Today we climbed about 6 hours through moorlands, leaving the rainforest and climbing into terrain marked more by heather, rocky ridges and small valleys.  In the early afternoon we were greeted by the mess and kitchen tents set up to serve us a hot lunch before we headed on. In what… Read More »

Day 3 – Shira Camp

Day 3 – Shira Camp (First Acclimatization Day) Settling in at Shira camp today, I became more conscious of one benefit of climbing in the off season.  With almost no other groups on the mountains, we had no sense of crowds on the mountain, encountering only a couple of smaller groups the whole time on the mountain.  We also had our choice of sites  within the camps and had Shira camp… Read More »

Day 4 – Shira to Barranco

Day 4 – Shira (12,500ft) – Lava Tower (15,190ft) – Barranco Camp (13,044ft) From Shira camp we would turn east, skirting the mountain to push for the summit from the east.  We climbed through the rocky, barren terrain to Lava Tower, a volcanic formation at the high point for the day, before making a difficult descent into and back out of a steep valley. This was a day… Read More »

Day 5 – Barranco to Karanga

Day 5 – Barranco Camp (13,044ft) to Karanga Valley Camp (13,106ft) I had spent much of the evening eyeing the Barranco Wall across a small valley from the camp.  From that vantage there didn’t seem to be a way up it and I assumed we’d go around. I would be disabused of that notion this morning. After a climb down into and up out of the valley, we… Read More »

Day 6 – Karanga Valley Camp

Day 6 – Karanga Valley Camp (Acclimatization Day) Today was an acclimatization day, and an opportunity to let my feet rest.  During the afternoon I hiked up above the camp about 45 minutes, then back, but for the most part this was just a day of relaxation, reading, drinking tea and chatting with team members. The extra… Read More »

Day 7 – Karanga Valley to Barafu

Day 7 – Karanga Valley Camp (13,106ft) to Barafu Camp (15,331ft) Today we were back to climbing, but it was a short day, climbing 2,200 feet in about three hours to Barafu Hut, the high camp from which we would depart for the push to the summit. We arrived at Barafu just before noon.  From here we could see the approach to the summit.  I… Read More »

Day 8 – Summit and Descent

  Day 8 – Summit Day – Barafu Camp (15,331 ft) to Uhuru Point (19,341 ft) to Mweka Camp (10,065 ft) The Climb The push for the summit (one map calls this the ‘assault trail’) is made overnight.  Reasons offered are that the footing is more stable when everything is colder at night, the sunrise at Stella Point is spectacular, and that the scheduling works better to make it… Read More »

Day 9 – Descent

Day – 9 Descent This was the calmest day of all.  Waking in the tents for the last time, we stuffed out gear in our duffels (no need to be organized) and headed to the mess tent for our last mountain breakfast before setting out on the trail. We were by now out of the hard trail and… Read More »

In Closing

This amazing adventure has been more than I ever imagined.  I’m healthier and fitter than I have been in years, and I have the immense satisfaction of an achievement like no other. I won’t say that I’ve conquered the mountain, because that’s not what it was about.  I did, however, redefine my own limitations. I’ve… Read More »